Hoping for a Big Bounce: TV for African Americans, Redux.

Coming this fall to some cities around the country: Bounce TV, the first broadcast  24/7 network programmed for the African American community. So far, its approach is pretty much under the radar of the general public, but Bounce is collecting stations in places like Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Birmingham–signing up station groups–and starting to sell advertising. It sounds promising: something for the mostly sane over-25 set, movies, sports and–they promise–original programming.
Lead partners Martin Luther King III and Andrew Young, highly credentialled civil and humanitarian rights activists, have turned their attention to the media, that egregiously insulting and exclusionary wasteland for people of color. I’d say they got it right: it took  the royalty of activists to get this job done.

Activists and a big corporate takeover artist like Comcast–which has provided a slice of  air for the new network–and apparently promises more to others, in its deal to acquire NBC Universal. You get it: diversity. The other players in Bounce are a string of former network execs now ready to move into the digital space. The time to slice and dice  air time has finally come–and Dan Rather/Mark Cuban look prescient over at HDNet.

In the deals with NBCUni and Sony and others, there seems to be a fair amount of material available. From the lists I’ve seen, mostly wholesome. Which is a word unlikely to be paired with the infamous BET, which made billionaires out of its founders when they sold, and, shall we say, embarrases the rest of us. Sheila Johnson, a really smart woman and said founder, has reportedly said she’s ashamed of what it has become. TV One, our other offering, was founded by Cathy Hughes, of whom I have the utmost respect. With Radio and TV One she’s really created an empire, but on the TV side has struggled to  excite, to pull in the big numbers.

Which is why I am rooting for Bounce TV, too–give us some news, some talk, something fresh. Oprah has taught us many things over the years, and lately, with OWN, it has been this: you can only get so far with re-runs. 24/7 is a lot of time. See you in the fall.

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